Saturday, September 29, 2018

1992 Shockwave - Around the Web

The 1992 Shockwave is an excellent figure.  He is true to the original character and includes an amazing helmet.  The entire 1992 DEF series of figures is actually amazingly well done.  It features good colors, unique and memorable accessories and cool characters.  There's really nothing about the set to not like.  Shockwave is probably the best overall figure of the bunch.  Here's the best of him from around the web.

1992 Shockwave Profile

Shockwave By Scarrviper

1992 Shockwave Pre Production at YoJoe.com

Shockwave at 3DJoes.com

Shockwave at Half the Battle

1992 DEF Toy Fair Catalog at JoeADay.com

1992 Shockwave, DEF, Eco Warriors, Toxo Zombie, Mega Marines, Monster Blaster APC

Thursday, September 27, 2018

2017 Steel Brigade - Factory Custom

I bought a lot of "original" collections in the late 1990's and early 2000's.  These were lots of figures and vehicles that were sold by the childhood owners of the toys rather than collectors or dealers.  As such, it was easier to identify which figures were rare and which were just popular.  Now, you see a great number of lots that are designed to look like childhood collections.  But, they are often stripped of all but the least popular army builders and the major characters like Snake Eyes, Cobra Commander and Stormshadow are noticeably absent. 

20 years ago, though, these lots were full of the army builders and major characters alike that collectors enjoy.  Aside from being able to use condition to determine which figures were favorites of the person from whom the collection was acquired, I was also able to get an idea of what figures were simply rare.  In my time buying, I never found a Payload, AVAC or Hardtop in a lot.  I found at least three Stardusters, a pair of Rumblers and an occasional Night Force figure, though.  One figure I never got in any lot, though, was the Steel Brigade.  This is somewhat odd as Steel Brigade figures (all versions except for the Gold Head) were relatively common back then.  Bagged version D figures with the recolored Recoil rifle sat unsold for $10 on Ebay.  If you wanted to build a quick army, you could do it for under $100.  But, I still never found the figure in any lot.

In the ensuing decades, though, Steel Brigade figures have gotten hot.  The overstock that was ubiquitous in the early 2000's is long gone and the reduced availability of the figure has lead all versions to be $40+ figures.  That's a tremendous amount for an army builder.  And, it made it difficult to amass large quantities of Steel Brigades.  In early 2017, though, factory custom makers rectified this situation.  In short order, a large number of Steel Brigade figures began to appear on the market.  There were desert, arctic, Sky Patrol, Night Force and Gold Headed versions.  And, there was also a large number of figures that were based on the classic color scheme that were offered to collectors for prices that were attractive to army builders.

I view this figure as the "Estrela" Steel Brigade.  The green color of the jacket and the beige of the arms reminds me of colors that Estrela used in the Brazilian G.I. Joe line.  And, while they never actually released a Steel Brigade figure, I could envisage them having used colors like those chosen by Black Major if they had done so.  The slightly different colors make it obvious that this is a factory custom figure.  The accessories are also different enough that even a novice would notice that the color, feel and sound of the gear is substantially different from that of vintage Joe accessories.  This helps collectors feel that their precious originals are retaining their value but also offering everyone who either hasn't had the fortune of collecting for two decades or had a massive toy budget to also enjoy some decent figures.

If you've spent any time perusing the photos on this site, you'll often see Steel Brigade figures in precarious situations.  Usually, they have been soundly defeated and are either posed as dead or about to be killed in terrible ways by Cobra forces.  There are some reasons for this.  The first is personal and is a subtle way to complain about how a certain segment of fandom has actively worked to shape the hobby to their own, selfish reasons rather than what the good of the hobby as a whole.  But, the bigger reason is not related to this old grudge at all.  For me, Cobra needed to be a credible threat.  If they always lost, why would anyone take them seriously?  For an elite team like G.I. Joe to be singularly focused on stopping Cobra, the enemy organization had to be a real threat.  Having Cobra defeat Joes, though, if problematic.  While the Joe team seems large, even a few defeats resulting in death quickly diminish not just the Joe roster but also their level of eliteness.  The Steel Brigade solves this dilemma.

I've always seen the Joe team as one of three entities set up by Generals Flagg and Austin in the late 1970's to not only combat America's enemies, but also groom military officers for political office.  The original plan was for the first group to handle international threats.  The second group, G.I. Joe, would handle domestic problems.  The third group, the Steel Brigade, would support both groups in their operations and provide a breeding ground for new recruits and replacements to the other, more elite teams.  But, things don't always go as planned.  G.I. Joe responded to Cobra and ended up chasing them around the world.  The first group became more covert and dabbled in international issues, often as anonymous aid to foreign powers who were either friendly to the U.S. or who had an objective that the U.S. happened to agree with at the time.  The Steel Brigade ended up getting drawn into both factions.  But, due to some terrible leadership among their ranks, were forever barred from getting promoted into a full member of either of the elite units.  Still, the Steel Brigade maintained their level of prestige and were a destination for many troopers who were excellent but not quite elite.  As such, they are capable of defeating Cobra, especially newer recruits.  But, they are also often bested by more experienced Cobras or better trained Cobra specialties.  

All of this provides an elaborate setup where I get to use the figures in a variety of ways.  I've always felt the Steel Brigade figure was very cool and worthy of his popularity.  I have always used Joe aligned army builders.  And, finally having Steel Brigade figures made it easier to represent this fact in photos and dioramas.  Being able to finally acquire some cheap versions based on vintage coloring as well as some additional paint jobs has been a great way to grow my collection and give Cobra a fairer fight.  If the Joes capture Cobras, they have to take them into custody and let them stand trial, get convicted and go to federal prison.  Cobra, though, can point a bazooka at a guy strapped to a tire and blow him up.  They just can't, though, do this to Roadblock, Flint or other characters.  So, the Steel Brigade will continue to find terrible fates at the hands of the bad guys.  Occasionally, they'll win one, too.  But, the Steel Brigade opens up more possibilities for story telling and photo taking.  So, that's worth their price right there.

This Steel Brigade version featured a great deal for your money.  In addition to the classic "Duke" chest version of the character, each figure also included an "Airborne" chest so you could build and army of Version A Steel Brigade figures.  Each figure included the requisite backpack in green.  They also included two rifles: a dark black Airborne rifle and a dark black Recoil rifle.  The Recoil rifles were welcome additions to the collecting world as they offered a cheap and properly colored alternative to one of the best weapon molds of the vintage Joe line.  And, you're still left with a spare rifle should you use the Recoil weapon for another Joe.

The Steel Brigade figures started their life off at around $12 per figure, $10 per figure if you bought larger lots.  By Christmas of 2017, though, you could get them for around $7 each.  At that price, they didn't last long.  Now, almost two years after their release, the lots of 5 Steel Brigade figures are gone and you'll see individuals sold between the $15 and $20 range.  At $12, these guys were a novelty.  At $7, they were a must buy.  But, at $20, I'd skip them and just save up to buy an original Steel Brigade.  Oddly, many of the differently colored Steel Brigade figures remain cheaper than original pricing.  But, those based on the Gold Head colors and the original colors have retained their popularity.  But, this makes sense since the figures are excellent army builders, hearken back to the vintage line and are close enough for many collectors to find useful.  

2017, Black Major, Red Laser Army, Steel Brigade, Mail Away, 1993 Monster Blaster APC, Mega Marines


2017, Black Major, Red Laser Army, Steel Brigade, Mail Away, General, Hawk, Outlaw, APC, 1983

2017, Black Major, Red Laser Army, Steel Brigade, Mail Away, General, Hawk, Outlaw, APC, 1983, Gold Head Steel Brigade



Saturday, September 22, 2018

1985 Lamprey - Around the Web

I opened my Moray for my birthday in 1985.  While the vehicle was amazing, it was the driver that grabbed my attention.  The Lamprey was just an amazing figure with a great weapon.  One of my great laments as a kid was that I only had one of them.  As such, I took tremendous care of the figure.  Fortunately, the Lamprey is now fairly easy to find and can be army built.  He remains one of my favorite Cobras to this day.  Here's the best of him from around the web.

1985 Lamprey Profile

Lamprey Dio 01

Lamprey Pre Production at YoJoe.com

Moray and Lamprey Video Review

Lamprey Variants

Lamprey at Brave Fortress

Lamprey By Outrider


1985 Lamprey, Moray, Hydrofoil

Thursday, September 20, 2018

2006 Gas Mask Trooper

2006 was not a good time to be a Joe fan.  In a lot of ways, it was like 1995.  A great run of toys had pitifully ended at retail while the product that comprised the late years was actually quite good.  There was little hope on the horizon for the line and the interest in the property was quickly fading away.  The thing is, the few releases that are actually considered 2006 items are quite good.  In many cases, they are step above the insufficient 2005 retail toys and bring some nice additions to a collection.  In a few cases, Hasbro trotted out some tired, recently used molds.  But, with minor adjustments, they created a solid update to something that could have been bland.  A perfect example is the 2006 Gas Mask Trooper.

Hasbro made a lot of weird decisions in the 2000's.  They would not remake a highly requested figure like the 1985 Snake Eyes or 1983 Cobra Commander.  Yet, they had the budget to make Mutt and recast parts for Scrap Iron.  They also, somehow, had budget to make a new Lady Jaye mold, even though the original had been proved useful as recently as 2003.  But, mostly, Hasbro liked to make new heads.  They were cheaper than other parts.  But, most of Hasbro's attempts at new heads left much to be desired.  Finally, in 2006, a new head appeared on an army builder.  With no face to sculpt, the result was pretty decent.  And, this Gas Mask Trooper can now easily integrate into many Cobra armies.

The origin of this figure is just a single panel in issue #44 of the Marvel Comic.  It seems disingenuous that the issue that introduced Airtight, the Mauler, Dr. Mindbender and the BATs would pick a character from one panel to become a figure.  But, this was all about cost.  And, the figure's body was available, had already been recently released in the base color and was going to be packed two per pack to further reduce the overall expense in making the pack.  Plus, the other molds were long gone and Hasbro didn't spend any money or time looking for molds when the line was at its peak.  So, there was no chance of any of the newly introduced characters joining Lady Jaye in the pack.  

Collectors began demanding a new Cobra Trooper in 2000.  It seemed an obvious choice for a fledgling line.  The chorus grew louder in 2001 as Hasbro ignored the whims of army builders.  It was not until 2004 that a Cobra Trooper and Officer based on the original look finally appeared.  Collectors assumed Hasbro would repaint the molds ad naseum.  But, that didn't happen.  A few months after the release of the 2004 Infantry Pack, the Cobra Trooper (now sporting his original head and crappy arms) appeared in a comic pack.  The Officer appeared in the next wave.  The molds would only appear once again, in the Night Watch set.  I never liked the Comic Pack Cobra Trooper.  His poor gear and flesh colored hands never did anything for me.  However, I really liked the 2004 Comic Pack Cobra Officer.  While he's basically the same color as the Trooper, the included Red Star AK-47 and gloved hands made all the difference.  I picked up a few of them on clearance and had them as a backup army when I wanted something different for a photo.  When these Gas Mask Troopers were released, I found they were exact matches for the Comic Pack Officer in color.  And, they also included the AK-47.  So, I quickly supplemented my Officers with Gas Mask Troopers and had a formidable force with relatively little effort.  While the Gas Mask Trooper lacks the painted gloves of the Officer, he does not have flesh colored hands and that makes all the difference to me with this mold.  

While the Gas Mask Trooper was never repainted, his legacy was continued.  In 2007, Hasbro released an anniversary figure named the Cobra Air Trooper.  At his core, this was a repainted Cobra Trooper.  But, he included a jet pack blatantly ripped off from the JUMP.  The additional headgear given to this figure to protect his brain was a dead ringer for the Gas Mask Trooper.  In the early 2010's, a design based on this head began to appear on Black Major factory custom figures.  Sadly, this head was mostly used on straight arm Grand Slam bodies to make armies for the Cobra De Aco.  The designs are great and the figures look amazing.  But, without swivel arms, the figures are very limited.  While these figures have dried up from their release, you can still find many of them for about their original price since they have not proven as desirable as the early Cobra Trooper and Crimson Guard repaints from the same timeframe.  A few of the heads have appeared on later factory customs.  So, the head being out there means there are options for you and you can get it an variety of colors, now, for customizing needs.

The Gas Mask Trooper's accessories were good and bad.  The bad was yet another Baroness rifle at a time when collectors had, literally, hundreds of them lying around.  The good, though, was the inclusion of the Red Star AK-47.  This weapon hearkened back to the original Cobra Officer and is a weapon I associate with Cobra.  With the figure's helmet, though, I also like to outfit him with various other gear that was included with other releases of that time.  My favorite combo is the black version of the 1991 Sci Fi's weapons that were first included with the 2001 Laser Viper.  Those accessories look good with the Gas Mask Trooper.  The bulkier head is really accented well when the figure wears a pack.  So, I go out of my way to find decent looking ones for my extra Gas Mask Troopers.

At the time, this pack was a dud.  You wonder how a set with a new Lady Jaye (the first hatless version!) and two classically inspired army builders could collect dust.  But, Joe fans pretty much abandoned the brand in 2005.  A series of bad decisions by Hasbro and the club left the small fan base fractured and beaten down.  And, with that, most of the new collectors who onboarded in 2000 through 2002 were gone.  So, the little product that got to retail sat and sat.  Eventually, this comic pack was heavily discounted.  I picked up a few for $5 or $6 each after shipping.  A lot of collectors bought some clearance packs to get extra Lady Jayes for parts.  And, they were then able to sell off the Gas Mask Troopers for a couple bucks each to cover their costs.  If that weren't enough, overstock Gas Mask Troopers were available in large lots from Asian Joe sellers.  All this added up to surplus figures that not even massive army builders could absorb.  

Today, the figure remains relatively unloved and you can get mint and complete versions for about $6.  Dealers will sell the figures for $15...which is ridiculous since you can get a MOC pack with two Troopers and Lady Jaye for around $20.  But, like most of the 2000's era army builders, this guy is not nearly as ubiquitous as he used to be and it might take you a year or more to finally build a large army.  I still find him one of the better figures just because he was something slightly different.  I'm glad I was able to build up an army of them as they are a great supplement to 2000's era Cobra forces.  They are not perfect figures.  But, few releases from their era are.  In this day and age where there, again, is no prospect of retail Joe figures on the horizon, I'm reminded of 12 years prior, as the line died again in front of collectors' eyes, with nothing they could do to stop it.  Those memories that are associated with this figure keep him more prominent than many of his contemporaries for me.  The fact that he's a good design is just icing on the cake.

2006 Gas Mask Trooper, Air Trooper, Comic Pack, Skeres, Alternate Asian, Cobra Officer, Midnight Chinese

Saturday, September 15, 2018

1990 Stretcher - Around the Web

I've always liked the Stretcher figure.  My first one was a beat up copy I found in a $1 bin at a flea market when I was in college.  As I acquired better and more complete samples, I realized that he was even better than my initial impressions.  Oddly, though, despite my fondness for the figure, I hadn't photographed him in almost 15 years.  It was fun to dig him out and appreciate his design another time.

Stretcher is probably more popular than his release year and unique specialty would imply.  But, he's still relatively low profile in the grand scheme of things.  Here's the best of him from around the web.

1990 Stretcher Profile

Unproduced Dark Blue Anti Venom Stretcher

Stretcher by thedustinmccoy

Stretcher at JoeADay.com

Stretcher Dio 01

Stretcher at JoePedia

Stretcher by therealdustinmccoy

Stretcher Video Review


1990 Stretcher, 1986 Mission to Brazil Leatherneck, Retaliator, 1993 Ace

1990 Stretcher, 1986 Mission to Brazil Leatherneck, Retaliator, 1993 Ace

Thursday, September 13, 2018

1982 JUMP Jet Pack

My Joe experience in 1982 began in October.  In that time, my brother and I managed to acquire pretty much all of the Joe toys released with few exceptions.  The MOBAT was the most glaring since it was the flagship vehicle of the time and included an exclusive figure.  One of the other missing items, though, was the JUMP Jet Pack.  I'm not sure why this playset was absent.  We had multiple FLAKs, VAMPs and duplicate figures from birthday and Christmas gifts.  But, for some reason, the JUMP never showed up.  But, since it didn't include a figure and Cobra didn't have any airborne vehicles, the missing jet pack never really crossed my mind.

If you flash forward to 1984, the JUMP was still somewhat out of mind.  There were enough new items in 1983 and 1984 to completely occupy me.  But, at a local Service Merchandise store, I found something of which I wasn't aware: a JUMP with an exclusive Grand Slam figure, only colored in silver instead of red.  It was this figure that got me interested in that version of the JUMP.  Not, necessarily, for the playset, but for the Grand Slam.  Even then, I had an interest in obscure Joes that were not part of the collections belonging to any of my friends.  I looked over this JUMP and Grand Slam combo for several months.  There were times when I had the money to buy it, but just didn't pull the trigger as I was saving for something else.  My parents, though, must have seen me staring at the toy.  And, for my birthday in 1984, I received the JUMP and Grand Slam.

That 1984 birthday was probably my favorite from childhood.  It was unseasonably warm that day and my friends and I were able to play outside well into the evening.  Once it was dark, we moved inside where we had an epic battle using my new JUMP, WHALE, Scarlett and Stormshadow figures.  This was my introduction to the JUMP and instantly locked the playset into one of those associative memories where looking at the toy simply brought back feelings of happiness and joy that were imprinted during that first day of ownership.

For me, the JUMP playset features two main components.  The first is the launchpad.  It's just a platform, but works very well for its purpose.  The second component is the one that mattered to me: the actual jetpack.  The jetpack plugs into a figure like a normal figure backpack and is interchangable with any vintage Joe.  This little piece, though, was the crux of the toy.  With it, any Joe could not "plausibly" fly.  That was a huge play element.  I had adventures where the JUMP was used to spot the enemy from miles away, as an escape for a desperate messenger who had to relay Cobra operations and as an attack mechanism which Cobra was hard pressed to repel.  In short, it brought a new dimension to every figure and didn't require flight to be confined in an expensive and bulky vehicle.

The jetpack was a key accessory for me.  For a while, the jetpack served as an emergency escape device for top Joe commanders.  It would be on a vehicle or in a base and strapped to Hawk should Cobra over run the base so that he could escape to fight another day.  Over the years, I developed a nameless, faceless legion of jetpack troopers.  It was represented by various figures through my childhood.  Most famously, though, the jetpack became the domain of Maverick and he then represented these crazy jetpack jockeys until I stopped collecting. 

While most of the 1982 vehicles would make their way around the world, the JUMP did not.  This is odd as it's the only 1982 vehicle that did not have a non-Hasbro made international release.  The jet pack did appear as an accessory in the European Action Force line.  This red colored pack is fairly obscure and a cool find.  But, the red doesn't really match any Cobra colors.  But, it can work with the Action Force Joe repaints of the time.  The JUMP was available as a mail in until around 1985.  And, we all know the jet pack would appear around 1987 with the mail away Starduster figure and would continue to be released with that character until at least 1993.  This could explain why the playset never appeared anywhere else since Hasbro never really took the actual jet pack out of production.

What's more odd, though, is that Hasbro didn't re-use the mold in the 2000's.  Despite the jet pack being a collector favorite and Hasbro having the mold, they never bothered with including it with any figures from that era of toys.  It's a shame as even one or two jet packs could have turned mediocre releases into something awesome.  In 2007, the jet pack, blaster and cord made their final appearance as accessories to a convention release of Starduster and Grand Slam.  The club tried to release the entire JUMP set.  But, the mold was damaged.  A few "feet" from the set were available at the 2007 convention as leftover pieces, reminding collectors of what could have been.  In the anniversary era, though, the jet pack was redone and has appeared many times, proving what a solid accessory it is.  In 2017, factory custom makers introduced the jet pack, blaster and hose in various colors as part of their Starduster repaints.  You can now find the jet pack in blue, red, white, chrome and other colors to augment your armies.

JUMPs are weird to price.  Because the set included a "rare" Grand Slam figure, there are people who believe the whole set is rare.  So, you'll see mint and complete with blueprints sets sell in the $50 range with an alarming frequency.  At the same time, you can get a perfect pad, pack, computer and gun for about $10 far more easily.  Even if you want a complete with blueprints set, you can find them regularly in the $20 range.  So, for such a popular item, you can still get the JUMP for decent prices and even pick up a few spares to have sitting around.  This is a great thing since the JUMP is a cool toy that works well in dioramas and individual scenes.  It's a rare piece that allows you to display a couple of figures in a small footprint and always looks cool doing so.

JUMP, Jet Pack, Grand Slam, Action Force, Steel Brigade, Mail Away, Steeler, Stalker, Snake Eyes


JUMP, Jet Pack, Grand Slam, Sightline, Red Lasers Army, General Hawk, 1986, Cobra Viper

JUMP, Jet Pack, Grand Slam, Maverick, Battle Force 2000, 2004, Hardtop, Biomassa, Forca Eco, Eco Warriors

JUMP, Jet Pack, Grand Slam, Outlaw, Red Lasers Army, Bootleg, Black Major, Steel Brigade, Factory Custom

1984 Silver Pads Grand Slam, JUMP Jet Pack, Funskool General Hawk

Thursday, September 6, 2018

1993 Mace - Around The Web

There's really no way to get around the fact that Mace is a terrible figure.  Bad colors, big proportions and a ridiculous helmet mounted spring loaded launcher all up to an awful package.  But, the figure's head is excellently sculpted and the body could have potential.  Surprisingly, there's a bit of content on this figure out there.  So, that gives him a leg up on several of his contemporaries.  Here's the best of Mace from around the web.

Mace Profile

Mace at JoeADay.com

Mace By Nekoman

Mace at Toys From the Past

Mace at 3DJoes.com

Mace by Slipstream80

Mace by dashtacker

1993 Mace, DEF, Battle Corps, Headhunter Stormtrooper, Monster Blaster APC, Mega Marines

1993 Mace, DEF, Battle Corps, Star Brigade, TARGAT, Mudbuster



Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Funskool Tunnel Rat

Tunnel Rat is easily one of the most popular figures in the Joe line.  He was released in the key Joe year of 1987, is an amazing sculpt, has excellent accessories, if colored near perfectly and has a likeness based on the father of the G.I. Joe mythos: Larry Hama.  Through the years, many other Tunnel Rat figures were released: pretty much all of them excellent in their own right.  Tunnel Rat was even given two international releases.  The Funskool figure, our subject today, features a paint scheme that is based on the 1990 Super Sonic Fighters Tunnel Rat, but is much brighter and more vibrant.  It's hard to see this as anything other than the worst Tunnel Rat figure.  But, the bright colors and excellent highlights give him a Funskool-chic that makes this figure a fun release to own.

Colorwise, Tunnel Rat is Funskool at its finest.  You get a powerful red shirt that announces the figure straight away.  It's offset by brown pants and darker red shoes.  The figure sports a odd brown bandana and gloves.  The chest, though, pops with a neon green grenade and offsetting silver and grey accouterments.  The figure is Funskool through and though.  (There is even an extra blob of yellow paint on Tunnel Rat's exposed chest/neck.  I don't know why, but it's there.)  However, the quality of the paint, the vibrant details and the appearance of a few useful colors all add up to a figure that should be terrible: but isn't.  Tunnel Rat is bright.  But, he fits in with other Joes from the 1980's since he features all of the painted details.  Funskool didn't try too hard (like Hasbro did with their 2000's era Tunnel Rat figures) but also was true to the spirit of the figure and produced something that's visually striking without being too over the top.

Funskool Tunnel Rat's gear is OK.  He includes a black version of the classic 1987 Tunnel Rat rifle.  This is great as it's the only weapon I associate with Tunnel Rat and helps to distinguish him from other versions that are missing his signature accessory.  He also includes a brown version of the Night Viper backpack.  It makes more sense for a tunnel specialist than the huge honkin' backpack from the original figure.  I'm not a huge fan of Cobra gear being re-purposed for Joe.  But, I give leeway for foreign releases.  Though, the technical look of the pack doesn't match Tunnel Rat, even if the color o the back is a nice match.  That's the extent of the gear, though.

For me, Tunnel Rat has always been the Joe team's light machine gunner.  As the 1987 figure was acquired during the height of my late childhood, he is both a sentimental and realistic favorite.  I've never had a burning desire to acquire more Tunnel Rat figures because the original version fulfilled my needs for the character and was useful in all situations where Tunnel Rat might be needed.  The Funskool version, though, is a useful addition to a vehicle crew or as a splash of color when I want a different look for a classic character.  I like the idea of the Super Sonic Fighters Tunnel Rat.  But, his muted, darker colors don't always translate to a photo or scene.  In that capacity, this Funskool Tunnel Rat excels and is able to be visually appealing and interesting without distracting like some of the brighter Funskool figures are wont to do.

Tunnel Rat got a lot of use.  In the vintage line, there was the 1987 original figure, a 1988 Night Force release and then a 1990 Super Sonic Fighters version.  All three of these figures are very well done and there isn't really a bad version of Tunnel Rat.  Hasbro then produced a Tiger Force Tunnel Rat that was exclusive to Europe.  Funskool acquired the mold and started releasing Tunnel Rat in the late 1990's or so.  They made him for years before returning the mold to Hasbro.  Hasbro then released a Night Force Tunnel Rat in 2004, a desert Tunnel Rat in late 2004 and a comic pack version with a new head in 2005.  There's plenty for a Tunnel Rat fan to collect and he exists in most of the major sub sets.  Tunnel Rat is a figure who Hasbro used well and left us wanting for little.

So, when I decided to profile this figure, I figured he was just like all the other Funskool figures of his era when it came to availability.  While he was likely no longer a $4 figure, I assumed a carded version would run around $20 or so.  Then, I went to look him up and found something shocking.  Aside from the fact that there were very few of them that sold, the prices were insane!  A carded version sold for over $200 at open sale.  There was another carded figure that sold for a buy it now for $100.  What happened?!?  Tunnel Rat was no more rare than any of the other Funskool figures of the early 2000's that were imported to the U.S. by the thousands.  Why does he now fetch stupid money while other, better repaints are available for $20?  It makes no sense to me.  But, there are simply tons of new collectors who were not around in the early 2000's when these guys sat unsold at every online dealer who could drop a few hundreds bucks on their Amex card with a reseller in India.  So, there is very much a false sense of rarity with many of the Funskool figures of this era.

Along with all the carded Tunnel Rats that were brought over, there was also a huge amount of bagged vehicle driver Tunnel Rat figures that were sold by some dealers for $1 each in 2003 and 2004.  Funskool returned the mold to Hasbro in the original batch of 18 molds in 2003.  Before they sent it back, Funskool ran a huge quantity of bagged figures.  As these were 2003 releases, they are the best quality figures and may be a cheap option for the highest quality figure...if you can find one.  I, personally, like this figure for his oddity.  It's a high quality Funskool release and gives Tunnel Rat something a little different than his darker and more drab releases from Hasbro.  But, there's no way in hell I'd pay more than $6 or $7 bucks for one....

2001 Funskool Desert Scorpion, 2000 Tunnel Rat, 2008 AWE Striker



































Funskool Tunnel Rat, Blaster, Flint, Cutter, Monster Blaster APC, Mega Marines

Funskool Tunnel Rat, Blaster, Flint, Cutter, Monster Blaster APC, Mega Marines